Part 28 out of 31
resting both hands upon his desk he said in a voice more
hollow than usual: "There are crimes which remain unpunished
because the criminals are unknown, and we might strike the
innocent instead of the guilty; but when the culprits are
discovered" (Villefort here extended his hand toward a large
crucifix placed opposite to his desk) -- "when they are
discovered, I swear to you, by all I hold most sacred, that
whoever they may be they shall die. Now, after the oath I
have just taken, and which I will keep, madame, dare you ask
for mercy for that wretch!"
"But, sir, are you sure he is as guilty as they say?"
"Listen; this is his description: `Benedetto, condemned, at
the age of sixteen, for five years to the galleys for
forgery.' He promised well, as you see -- first a runaway,
then an assassin."
"And who is this wretch?"
"Who can tell? -- a vagabond, a Corsican."
"Has no one owned him?"
"No one; his parents are unknown."
"But who was the man who brought him from Lucca?"
"Another rascal like himself, perhaps his accomplice." The
baroness clasped her hands. "Villefort," she exclaimed in
her softest and most captivating manner.
"For heaven's sake, madame," said Villefort, with a firmness
of expression not altogether free from harshness -- "for
heaven's sake, do not ask pardon of me for a guilty wretch!
What am I? -- the law. Has the law any eyes to witness your
grief? Has the law ears to be melted by your sweet voice?
Has the law a memory for all those soft recollections you
endeavor to recall? No, madame; the law has commanded, and
when it commands it strikes. You will tell me that I am a
living being, and not a code -- a man, and not a volume.
Look at me, madame -- look around me. Have mankind treated
me as a brother? Have they loved me? Have they spared me?
Has any one shown the mercy towards me that you now ask at
my hands? No, madame, they struck me, always struck me!
"Woman, siren that you are, do you persist in fixing on me
that fascinating eye, which reminds me that I ought to
blush? Well, be it so; let me blush for the faults you know,
and perhaps -- perhaps for even more than those! But having
sinned myself, -- it may be more deeply than others, -- I
never rest till I have torn the disguises from my
fellow-creatures, and found out their weaknesses. I have
always found them; and more, -- I repeat it with joy, with
triumph, -- I have always found some proof of human
perversity or error. Every criminal I condemn seems to me
living evidence that I am not a hideous exception to the
rest. Alas, alas, alas; all the world is wicked; let us
therefore strike at wickedness!"
Villefort pronounced these last words with a feverish rage,
which gave a ferocious eloquence to his words.
"But"' said Madame Danglars, resolving to make a last
effort, "this young man, though a murderer, is an orphan,
abandoned by everybody."
"So much the worse, or rather, so much the better; it has
been so ordained that he may have none to weep his fate."
"But this is trampling on the weak, sir."
"The weakness of a murderer!"
"His dishonor reflects upon us."
"Is not death in my house?"
"Oh, sir," exclaimed the baroness, "you are without pity for
others, well, then, I tell you they will have no mercy on
"Be it so!" said Villefort, raising his arms to heaven.
"At least, delay the trial till the next assizes; we shall
then have six months before us."
"No, madame," said Villefort; "instructions have been given.
There are yet five days left; five days are more than I
require. Do you not think that I also long for
forgetfulness? While working night and day, I sometimes lose
all recollection of the past, and then I experience the same
sort of happiness I can imagine the dead feel; still, it is
better than suffering."
"But, sir, he has fled; let him escape -- inaction is a
"I tell you it is too late; early this morning the telegraph
was employed, and at this very minute" --
"Sir," said the valet de chambre, entering the room, "a
dragoon has brought this despatch from the minister of the
interior." Villefort seized the letter, and hastily broke
the seal. Madame Danglars trembled with fear; Villefort
started with joy. "Arrested!" he exclaimed; "he was taken at
Compiegne, and all is over." Madame Danglars rose from her
seat, pale and cold. "Adieu, sir," she said. "Adieu,
madame," replied the king's attorney, as in an almost joyful
manner he conducted her to the door. Then, turning to his
desk, he said, striking the letter with the back of his
right hand, "Come, I had a forgery, three robberies, and two
cases of arson, I only wanted a murder, and here it is. It
will be a splendid session!"
As the procureur had told Madame Danglars, Valentine was not
yet recovered. Bowed down with fatigue, she was indeed
confined to her bed; and it was in her own room, and from
the lips of Madame de Villefort, that she heard all the
strange events we have related, -- we mean the flight of
Eugenie and the arrest of Andrea Cavalcanti, or rather
Benedetto, together with the accusation of murder pronounced
against him. But Valentine was so weak that this recital
scarcely produced the same effect it would have done had she
been in her usual state of health. Indeed, her brain was
only the seat of vague ideas, and confused forms, mingled
with strange fancies, alone presented themselves before her
During the daytime Valentine's perceptions remained
tolerably clear, owing to the constant presence of M.
Noirtier, who caused himself to be carried to his
granddaughter's room, and watched her with his paternal
tenderness; Villefort also, on his return from the law
courts, frequently passed an hour or two with his father and
child. At six o'clock Villefort retired to his study, at
eight M. d'Avrigny himself arrived, bringing the night
draught prepared for the young girl, and then M. Noirtier
was carried away. A nurse of the doctor's choice succeeded
them, and never left till about ten or eleven o'clock, when
Valentine was asleep. As she went down-stairs she gave the
keys of Valentine's room to M. de Villefort, so that no one
could reach the sick-room excepting through that of Madame
de Villefort and little Edward.
Every morning Morrel called on Noirtier to receive news of
Valentine, and, extraordinary as it seemed, each day found
him less uneasy. Certainly, though Valentine still labored
under dreadful nervous excitement, she was better; and
moreover, Monte Cristo had told him when, half distracted,
he had rushed to the count's house, that if she were not
dead in two hours she would be saved. Now four days had
elapsed, and Valentine still lived.
The nervous excitement of which we speak pursued Valentine
even in her sleep, or rather in that state of somnolence
which succeeded her waking hours; it was then, in the
silence of night, in the dim light shed from the alabaster
lamp on the chimney-piece, that she saw the shadows pass and
repass which hover over the bed of sickness, and fan the
fever with their trembling wings. First she fancied she saw
her stepmother threatening her, then Morrel stretched his
arms towards her; sometimes mere strangers, like the Count
of Monte Cristo came to visit her; even the very furniture,
in these moments of delirium, seemed to move, and this state
lasted till about three o'clock in the morning, when a deep,
heavy slumber overcame the young girl, from which she did
not awake till daylight. On the evening of the day on which
Valentine had learned of the flight of Eugenie and the
arrest of Benedetto, -- Villefort having retired as well as
Noirtier and d'Avrigny, -- her thoughts wandered in a
confused maze, alternately reviewing her own situation and
the events she had just heard.
Eleven o'clock had struck. The nurse, having placed the
beverage prepared by the doctor within reach of the patient,
and locked the door, was listening with terror to the
comments of the servants in the kitchen, and storing her
memory with all the horrible stories which had for some
months past amused the occupants of the ante-chambers in the
house of the king's attorney. Meanwhile an unexpected scene
was passing in the room which had been so carefully locked.
Ten minutes had elapsed since the nurse had left; Valentine,
who for the last hour had been suffering from the fever
which returned nightly, incapable of controlling her ideas,
was forced to yield to the excitement which exhausted itself
in producing and reproducing a succession and recurrence of
the same fancies and images. The night-lamp threw out
countless rays, each resolving itself into some strange form
to her disordered imagination, when suddenly by its
flickering light Valentine thought she saw the door of her
library, which was in the recess by the chimney-piece, open
slowly, though she in vain listened for the sound of the
hinges on which it turned.
At any other time Valentine would have seized the silken
bell-pull and summoned assistance, but nothing astonished
her in her present situation. Her reason told her that all
the visions she beheld were but the children of her
imagination, and the conviction was strengthened by the fact
that in the morning no traces remained of the nocturnal
phantoms, who disappeared with the coming of daylight. From
behind the door a human figure appeared, but the girl was
too familiar with such apparitions to be alarmed, and
therefore only stared, hoping to recognize Morrel. The
figure advanced towards the bed and appeared to listen with
profound attention. At this moment a ray of light glanced
across the face of the midnight visitor.
"It is not he," she murmured, and waited, in the assurance
that this was but a dream, for the man to disappear or
assume some other form. Still, she felt her pulse, and
finding it throb violently she remembered that the best
method of dispelling such illusions was to drink, for a
draught of the beverage prepared by the doctor to allay her
fever seemed to cause a reaction of the brain, and for a
short time she suffered less. Valentine therefore reached
her hand towards the glass, but as soon as her trembling arm
left the bed the apparition advanced more quickly towards
her, and approached the young girl so closely that she
fancied she heard his breath, and felt the pressure of his
This time the illusion, or rather the reality, surpassed
anything Valentine had before experienced; she began to
believe herself really alive and awake, and the belief that
her reason was this time not deceived made her shudder. The
pressure she felt was evidently intended to arrest her arm,
and she slowly withdrew it. Then the figure, from whom she
could not detach her eyes, and who appeared more protecting
than menacing, took the glass, and walking towards the
night-light held it up, as if to test its transparency. This
did not seem sufficient; the man, or rather the ghost -- for
he trod so softly that no sound was heard -- then poured out
about a spoonful into the glass, and drank it. Valentine
witnessed this scene with a sentiment of stupefaction. Every
minute she had expected that it would vanish and give place
to another vision; but the man, instead of dissolving like a
shadow, again approached her, and said in an agitated voice,
"Now you may drink."
Valentine shuddered. It was the first time one of these
visions had ever addressed her in a living voice, and she
was about to utter an exclamation. The man placed his finger
on her lips. "The Count of Monte Cristo!" she murmured.
It was easy to see that no doubt now remained in the young
girl's mind as to the reality of the scene; her eyes started
with terror, her hands trembled, and she rapidly drew the
bedclothes closer to her. Still, the presence of Monte
Cristo at such an hour, his mysterious, fanciful, and
extraordinary entrance into her room through the wall, might
well seem impossibilities to her shattered reason. "Do not
call any one -- do not be alarmed," said the Count; "do not
let a shade of suspicion or uneasiness remain in your
breast; the man standing before you, Valentine (for this
time it is no ghost), is nothing more than the tenderest
father and the most respectful friend you could dream of."
Valentine could not reply; the voice which indicated the
real presence of a being in the room, alarmed her so much
that she feared to utter a syllable; still the expression of
her eyes seemed to inquire, "If your intentions are pure,
why are you here?" The count's marvellous sagacity
understood all that was passing in the young girl's mind.
"Listen to me," he said, "or, rather, look upon me; look at
my face, paler even than usual, and my eyes, red with
weariness -- for four days I have not closed them, for I
have been constantly watching you, to protect and preserve
you for Maximilian." The blood mounted rapidly to the cheeks
of Valentine, for the name just announced by the count
dispelled all the fear with which his presence had inspired
her. "Maximilian!" she exclaimed, and so sweet did the sound
appear to her, that she repeated it -- "Maximilian! -- has
he then owned all to you?"
"Everything. He told me your life was his, and I have
promised him that you shall live."
"You have promised him that I shall live?"
"But, sir, you spoke of vigilance and protection. Are you a
"Yes; the best you could have at the present time, believe
"But you say you have watched?" said Valentine uneasily;
"where have you been? -- I have not seen you." The count
extended his hand towards the library. "I was hidden behind
that door," he said, "which leads into the next house, which
I have rented." Valentine turned her eyes away, and, with an
indignant expression of pride and modest fear, exclaimed:
"Sir, I think you have been guilty of an unparalleled
intrusion, and that what you call protection is more like an
"Valentine," he answered, "during my long watch over you,
all I have observed has been what people visited you, what
nourishment was prepared, and what beverage was served;
then, when the latter appeared dangerous to me, I entered,
as I have now done, and substituted, in the place of the
poison, a healthful draught; which, instead of producing the
death intended, caused life to circulate in your veins."
"Poison -- death!" exclaimed Valentine, half believing
herself under the influence of some feverish hallucination;
"what are you saying, sir?"
"Hush, my child," said Monte Cristo, again placing his
finger upon her lips, "I did say poison and death. But drink
some of this;" and the count took a bottle from his pocket,
containing a red liquid, of which he poured a few drops into
the glass. "Drink this, and then take nothing more
to-night." Valentine stretched out her hand, but scarcely
had she touched the glass when she drew back in fear. Monte
Cristo took the glass, drank half its contents, and then
presented it to Valentine, who smiled and swallowed the
rest. "Oh, yes," she exclaimed, "I recognize the flavor of
my nocturnal beverage which refreshed me so much, and seemed
to ease my aching brain. Thank you, sir, thank you!"
"This is how you have lived during the last four nights,
Valentine," said the count. "But, oh, how I passed that
time! Oh, the wretched hours I have endured -- the torture
to which I have submitted when I saw the deadly poison
poured into your glass, and how I trembled lest you should
drink it before I could find time to throw it away!"
"Sir," said Valentine, at the height of her terror, "you say
you endured tortures when you saw the deadly poison poured
into my glass; but if you saw this, you must also have seen
the person who poured it?"
"Yes." Valentine raised herself in bed, and drew over her
chest, which appeared whiter than snow, the embroidered
cambric, still moist with the cold dews of delirium, to
which were now added those of terror. "You saw the person?"
repeated the young girl. "Yes," repeated the count.
"What you tell me is horrible, sir. You wish to make me
believe something too dreadful. What? -- attempt to murder
me in my father's house, in my room, on my bed of sickness?
Oh, leave me, sir; you are tempting me -- you make me doubt
the goodness of providence -- it is impossible, it cannot
"Are you the first that this hand has stricken? Have you not
seen M. de Saint-Meran, Madame de Saint-Meran, Barrois, all
fall? would not M. Noirtier also have fallen a victim, had
not the treatment he has been pursuing for the last three
years neutralized the effects of the poison?"
"Oh, heaven," said Valentine; "is this the reason why
grandpapa has made me share all his beverages during the
"And have they all tasted of a slightly bitter flavor, like
that of dried orange-peel?"
"Oh, yes, yes!"
"Then that explains all," said Monte Cristo. "Your
grandfather knows, then, that a poisoner lives here; perhaps
he even suspects the person. He has been fortifying you, his
beloved child, against the fatal effects of the poison,
which has failed because your system was already impregnated
with it. But even this would have availed little against a
more deadly medium of death employed four days ago, which is
generally but too fatal."
"But who, then, is this assassin, this murderer?"
"Let me also ask you a question. Have you never seen any one
enter your room at night?"
"Oh, yes; I have frequently seen shadows pass close to me,
approach, and disappear; but I took them for visions raised
by my feverish imagination, and indeed when you entered I
thought I was under the influence of delirium."
"Then you do not know who it is that attempts your life?"
"No," said Valentine; "who could desire my death?"
"You shall know it now, then," said Monte Cristo, listening.
"How do you mean?" said Valentine, looking anxiously around.
"Because you are not feverish or delirious to-night, but
thoroughly awake; midnight is striking, which is the hour
"Oh, heavens," exclaimed Valentine, wiping off the drops
which ran down her forehead. Midnight struck slowly and
sadly; every hour seemed to strike with leaden weight upon
the heart of the poor girl. "Valentine," said the count,
"summon up all your courage; still the beatings of your
heart; do not let a sound escape you, and feign to be
asleep; then you will see." Valentine seized the count's
hand. "I think I hear a noise," she said; "leave me."
"Good-by, for the present," replied the count, walking upon
tiptoe towards the library door, and smiling with an
expression so sad and paternal that the young girl's heart
was filled with gratitude. Before closing the door he turned
around once more, and said, "Not a movement -- not a word;
let them think you asleep, or perhaps you may be killed
before I have the power of helping you." And with this
fearful injunction the count disappeared through the door,
which noiselessly closed after him.
Valentine was alone; two other clocks, slower than that of
Saint-Philippe du Roule, struck the hour of midnight from
different directions, and excepting the rumbling of a few
carriages all was silent. Then Valentine's attention was
engrossed by the clock in her room, which marked the
seconds. She began counting them, remarking that they were
much slower than the beatings of her heart; and still she
doubted, -- the inoffensive Valentine could not imagine that
any one should desire her death. Why should they? To what
end? What had she done to excite the malice of an enemy?
There was no fear of her falling asleep. One terrible idea
pressed upon her mind, -- that some one existed in the world
who had attempted to assassinate her, and who was about to
endeavor to do so again. Supposing this person, wearied at
the inefficacy of the poison, should, as Monte Cristo
intimated, have recourse to steel! -- What if the count
should have no time to run to her rescue! -- What if her
last moments were approaching, and she should never again
see Morrel! When this terrible chain of ideas presented
itself, Valentine was nearly persuaded to ring the bell, and
call for help. But through the door she fancied she saw the
luminous eye of the count -- that eye which lived in her
memory, and the recollection overwhelmed her with so much
shame that she asked herself whether any amount of gratitude
could ever repay his adventurous and devoted friendship.
Twenty minutes, twenty tedious minutes, passed thus, then
ten more, and at last the clock struck the half-flour. Just
then the sound of finger-nails slightly grating against the
door of the library informed Valentine that the count was
still watching, and recommended her to do the same; at the
same time, on the opposite side, that is towards Edward's
room, Valentine fancied that she heard the creaking of the
floor; she listened attentively, holding her breath till she
was nearly suffocated; the lock turned, and the door slowly
opened. Valentine had raised herself upon her elbow, and had
scarcely time to throw herself down on the bed and shade her
eyes with her arm; then, trembling, agitated, and her heart
beating with indescribable terror, she awaited the event.
Some one approached the bed and drew back the curtains.
Valentine summoned every effort, and breathed with that
regular respiration which announces tranquil sleep.
"Valentine!" said a low voice. Still silent: Valentine had
promised not to awake. Then everything was still, excepting
that Valentine heard the almost noiseless sound of some
liquid being poured into the glass she had just emptied.
Then she ventured to open her eyelids, and glance over her
extended arm. She saw a woman in a white dressing-gown
pouring a liquor from a phial into her glass. During this
short time Valentine must have held her breath, or moved in
some slight degree, for the woman, disturbed, stopped and
leaned over the bed, in order the better to ascertain
whether Valentine slept -- it was Madame de Villefort.
On recognizing her step-mother, Valentine could not repress
a shudder, which caused a vibration in the bed. Madame de
Villefort instantly stepped back close to the wall, and
there, shaded by the bed-curtains, she silently and
attentively watched the slightest movement of Valentine. The
latter recollected the terrible caution of Monte Cristo; she
fancied that the hand not holding the phial clasped a long
sharp knife. Then collecting all her remaining strength, she
forced herself to close her eyes; but this simple operation
upon the most delicate organs of our frame, generally so
easy to accomplish, became almost impossible at this moment,
so much did curiosity struggle to retain the eyelid open and
learn the truth. Madame de Villefort, however, reassured by
the silence, which was alone disturbed by the regular
breathing of Valentine, again extended her hand, and half
hidden by the curtains succeeded in emptying the contents of
the phial into the glass. Then she retired so gently that
Valentine did not know she had left the room. She only
witnessed the withdrawal of the arm -- the fair round arm of
a woman but twenty-five years old, and who yet spread death
It is impossible to describe the sensations experienced by
Valentine during the minute and a half Madame de Villefort
remained in the room. The grating against the library-door
aroused the young girl from the stupor in which she was
plunged, and which almost amounted to insensibility. She
raised her head with an effort. The noiseless door again
turned on its hinges, and the Count of Monte Cristo
reappeared. "Well," said he, "do you still doubt?"
"Oh," murmured the young girl.
"Have you seen?"
"Did you recognize?" Valentine groaned. "Oh, yes;" she said,
"I saw, but I cannot believe!"
"Would you rather die, then, and cause Maximilian's death?"
"Oh," repeated the young girl, almost bewildered, "can I not
leave the house? -- can I not escape?"
"Valentine, the hand which now threatens you will pursue you
everywhere; your servants will be seduced with gold, and
death will be offered to you disguised in every shape. You
will find it in the water you drink from the spring, in the
fruit you pluck from the tree."
"But did you not say that my kind grandfather's precaution
had neutralized the poison?"
"Yes, but not against a strong dose; the poison will be
changed, and the quantity increased." He took the glass and
raised it to his lips. "It is already done," he said;
"brucine is no longer employed, but a simple narcotic! I can
recognize the flavor of the alcohol in which it has been
dissolved. If you had taken what Madame de Villefort has
poured into your glass, Valentine -- Valentine -- you would
have been doomed!"
"But," exclaimed the young girl, "why am I thus pursued?"
"Why? -- are you so kind -- so good -- so unsuspicious of
ill, that you cannot understand, Valentine?"
"No, I have never injured her."
"But you are rich, Valentine; you have 200,000 livres a
year, and you prevent her son from enjoying these 200,000
"How so? The fortune is not her gift, but is inherited from
"Certainly; and that is why M. and Madame de Saint-Meran
have died; that is why M. Noirtier was sentenced the day he
made you his heir; that is why you, in your turn, are to die
-- it is because your father would inherit your property,
and your brother, his only son, succeed to his."
"Edward? Poor child! Are all these crimes committed on his
"Ah, then you at length understand?"
"Heaven grant that this may not be visited upon him!"
"Valentine, you are an angel!"
"But why is my grandfather allowed to live?"
"It was considered, that you dead, the fortune would
naturally revert to your brother, unless he were
disinherited; and besides, the crime appearing useless, it
would be folly to commit it."
"And is it possible that this frightful combination of
crimes has been invented by a woman?"
"Do you recollect in the arbor of the Hotel des Postes, at
Perugia, seeing a man in a brown cloak, whom your stepmother
was questioning upon aqua tofana? Well, ever since then, the
infernal project has been ripening in her brain."
"Ah, then, indeed, sir," said the sweet girl, bathed in
tears, "I see that I am condemned to die!"
"No, Valentine, for I have foreseen all their plots; no,
your enemy is conquered since we know her, and you will
live, Valentine -- live to be happy yourself, and to confer
happiness upon a noble heart; but to insure this you must
rely on me."
"Command me, sir -- what am I to do?"
"You must blindly take what I give you."
"Alas, were it only for my own sake, I should prefer to
"You must not confide in any one -- not even in your
"My father is not engaged in this fearful plot, is he, sir?"
asked Valentine, clasping her hands.
"No; and yet your father, a man accustomed to judicial
accusations, ought to have known that all these deaths have
not happened naturally; it is he who should have watched
over you -- he should have occupied my place -- he should
have emptied that glass -- he should have risen against the
assassin. Spectre against spectre!" he murmured in a low
voice, as he concluded his sentence.
"Sir," said Valentine, "I will do all I can to live, for
there are two beings whose existence depends upon mine -- my
grandfather and Maximilian."
"I will watch over them as I have over you."
"Well, sir, do as you will with me;" and then she added, in
a low voice, "oh, heavens, what will befall me?"
"Whatever may happen, Valentine, do not be alarmed; though
you suffer; though you lose sight, hearing, consciousness,
fear nothing; though you should awake and be ignorant where
you are, still do not fear; even though you should find
yourself in a sepulchral vault or coffin. Reassure yourself,
then, and say to yourself: `At this moment, a friend, a
father, who lives for my happiness and that of Maximilian,
watches over me!'"
"Alas, alas, what a fearful extremity!"
"Valentine, would you rather denounce your stepmother?"
"I would rather die a hundred times -- oh, yes, die!"
"No, you will not die; but will you promise me, whatever
happens, that you will not complain, but hope?"
"I will think of Maximilian!"
"You are my own darling child, Valentine! I alone can save
you, and I will." Valentine in the extremity of her terror
joined her hands, -- for she felt that the moment had
arrived to ask for courage, -- and began to pray, and while
uttering little more than incoherent words, she forgot that
her white shoulders had no other covering than her long
hair, and that the pulsations of her heart could he seen
through the lace of her nightdress. Monte Cristo gently laid
his hand on the young girl's arm, drew the velvet coverlet
close to her throat, and said with a paternal smile, -- "My
child, believe in my devotion to you as you believe in the
goodness of providence and the love of Maximilian."
Then he drew from his waistcoat-pocket the little emerald
box, raised the golden lid, and took from it a pastille
about the size of a pea, which he placed in her hand. She
took it, and looked attentively on the count; there was an
expression on the face of her intrepid protector which
commanded her veneration. She evidently interrogated him by
her look. "Yes," said he. Valentine carried the pastille to
her mouth, and swallowed it. "And now, my dear child, adieu
for the present. I will try and gain a little sleep, for you
"Go," said Valentine, "whatever happens, I promise you not
Monte Cristo for some time kept his eyes fixed on the young
girl, who gradually fell asleep, yielding to the effects of
the narcotic the count had given her. Then he took the
glass, emptied three parts of the contents in the fireplace,
that it might be supposed Valentine had taken it, and
replaced it on the table; then he disappeared, after
throwing a farewell glance on Valentine, who slept with the
confidence and innocence of an angel.
The night-light continued to burn on the chimney-piece,
exhausting the last drops of oil which floated on the
surface of the water. The globe of the lamp appeared of a
reddish hue, and the flame, brightening before it expired,
threw out the last flickerings which in an inanimate object
have been so often compared with the convulsions of a human
creature in its final agonies. A dull and dismal light was
shed over the bedclothes and curtains surrounding the young
girl. All noise in the streets had ceased, and the silence
was frightful. It was then that the door of Edward's room
opened, and a head we have before noticed appeared in the
glass opposite; it was Madame de Villefort, who came to
witness the effects of the drink she had prepared. She
stopped in the doorway, listened for a moment to the
flickering of the lamp, the only sound in that deserted
room, and then advanced to the table to see if Valentine's
glass were empty. It was still about a quarter full, as we
before stated. Madame de Villefort emptied the contents into
the ashes, which she disturbed that they might the more
readily absorb the liquid; then she carefully rinsed the
glass, and wiping it with her handkerchief replaced it on
If any one could have looked into the room just then he
would have noticed the hesitation with which Madame de
Villefort approached the bed and looked fixedly on
Valentine. The dim light, the profound silence, and the
gloomy thoughts inspired by the hour, and still more by her
own conscience, all combined to produce a sensation of fear;
the poisoner was terrified at the contemplation of her own
work. At length she rallied, drew aside the curtain, and
leaning over the pillow gazed intently on Valentine. The
young girl no longer breathed, no breath issued through the
half-closed teeth; the white lips no longer quivered -- the
eyes were suffused with a bluish vapor, and the long black
lashes rested on a cheek white as wax. Madame de Villefort
gazed upon the face so expressive even in its stillness;
then she ventured to raise the coverlet and press her hand
upon the young girl's heart. It was cold and motionless. She
only felt the pulsation in her own fingers, and withdrew her
hand with a shudder. One arm was hanging out of the bed;
from shoulder to elbow it was moulded after the arms of
Germain Pillon's "Graces,"* but the fore-arm seemed to be
slightly distorted by convulsion, and the hand, so
delicately formed, was resting with stiff outstretched
fingers on the framework of the bed. The nails, too, were
* Germain Pillon was a famous French sculptor (1535-1598).
His best known work is "The Three Graces," now in the
Madame de Villefort had no longer any doubt; all was over --
she had consummated the last terrible work she had to
accomplish. There was no more to do in the room, so the
poisoner retired stealthily, as though fearing to hear the
sound of her own footsteps; but as she withdrew she still
held aside the curtain, absorbed in the irresistible
attraction always exerted by the picture of death, so long
as it is merely mysterious and does not excite disgust. Just
then the lamp again flickered; the noise startled Madame de
Villefort, who shuddered and dropped the curtain.
Immediately afterwards the light expired, and the room was
plunged in frightful obscurity, while the clock at that
minute struck half-past four. Overpowered with agitation,
the poisoner succeeded in groping her way to the door, and
reached her room in an agony of fear.
The darkness lasted two hours longer; then by degrees a cold
light crept through the Venetian blinds, until at length it
revealed the objects in the room. About this time the
nurse's cough was heard on the stairs and the woman entered
the room with a cup in her hand. To the tender eye of a
father or a lover, the first glance would have sufficed to
reveal Valentine's condition; but to this hireling,
Valentine only appeared to sleep. "Good," she exclaimed,
approaching the table, "she has taken part of her draught;
the glass is three-quarters empty."
Then she went to the fireplace and lit the fire, and
although she had just left her bed, she could not resist the
temptation offered by Valentine's sleep, so she threw
herself into an arm-chair to snatch a little more rest. The
clock striking eight awoke her. Astonished at the prolonged
slumber of the patient, and frightened to see that the arm
was still hanging out of the bed, she advanced towards
Valentine, and for the first time noticed the white lips.
She tried to replace the arm, but it moved with a frightful
rigidity which could not deceive a sick-nurse. She screamed
aloud; then running to the door exclaimed, -- "Help, help!"
"What is the matter?" asked M. d'Avrigny, at the foot of the
stairs, it being the hour he usually visited her.
"What is it?" asked Villefort, rushing from his room.
"Doctor, do you hear them call for help?"
"Yes, yes; let us hasten up; it was in Valentine's room."
But before the doctor and the father could reach the room,
the servants who were on the same floor had entered, and
seeing Valentine pale and motionless on her bed, they lifted
up their hands towards heaven and stood transfixed, as
though struck by lightening. "Call Madame de Villefort! --
wake Madame de Villefort!" cried the procureur from the door
of his chamber, which apparently he scarcely dared to leave.
But instead of obeying him, the servants stood watching M.
d'Avrigny, who ran to Valentine, and raised her in his arms.
"What? -- this one, too?" he exclaimed. "Oh, where will be
the end?" Villefort rushed into the room. "What are you
saying, doctor?" he exclaimed, raising his hands to heaven.
"I say that Valentine is dead!" replied d'Avrigny, in a
voice terrible in its solemn calm.
M. de Villefort staggered and buried his head in the bed. On
the exclamation of the doctor and the cry of the father, the
servants all fled with muttered imprecations; they were
heard running down the stairs and through the long passages,
then there was a rush in the court, afterwards all was
still; they had, one and all, deserted the accursed house.
Just then, Madame de Villefort, in the act of slipping on
her dressing-gown, threw aside the drapery and for a moment
stood motionless, as though interrogating the occupants of
the room, while she endeavored to call up some rebellious
tears. On a sudden she stepped, or rather bounded, with
outstretched arms, towards the table. She saw d'Avrigny
curiously examining the glass, which she felt certain of
having emptied during the night. It was now a third full,
just as it was when she threw the contents into the ashes.
The spectre of Valentine rising before the poisoner would
have alarmed her less. It was, indeed, the same color as the
draught she had poured into the glass, and which Valentine
had drank; it was indeed the poison, which could not deceive
M. d'Avrigny, which he now examined so closely; it was
doubtless a miracle from heaven, that, notwithstanding her
precautions, there should be some trace, some proof
remaining to reveal the crime. While Madame de Villefort
remained rooted to the spot like a statue of terror, and
Villefort, with his head hidden in the bedclothes, saw
nothing around him, d'Avrigny approached the window, that he
might the better examine the contents of the glass, and
dipping the tip of his finger in, tasted it. "Ah," he
exclaimed, "it is no longer brucine that is used; let me see
what it is!"
Then he ran to one of the cupboards in Valentine's room,
which had been transformed into a medicine closet, and
taking from its silver case a small bottle of nitric acid,
dropped a little of it into the liquor, which immediately
changed to a blood-red color. "Ah," exclaimed d'Avrigny, in
a voice in which the horror of a judge unveiling the truth
was mingled with the delight of a student making a
discovery. Madame de Villefort was overpowered, her eyes
first flashed and then swam, she staggered towards the door
and disappeared. Directly afterwards the distant sound of a
heavy weight falling on the ground was heard, but no one
paid any attention to it; the nurse was engaged in watching
the chemical analysis, and Villefort was still absorbed in
grief. M. d'Avrigny alone had followed Madame de Villefort
with his eyes, and watched her hurried retreat. He lifted up
the drapery over the entrance to Edward's room, and his eye
reaching as far as Madame de Villefort's apartment, he
beheld her extended lifeless on the floor. "Go to the
assistance of Madame de Villefort," he said to the nurse.
"Madame de Villefort is ill."
"But Mademoiselle de Villefort" -- stammered the nurse.
"Mademoiselle de Villefort no longer requires help," said
d'Avrigny, "since she is dead."
"Dead, -- dead!" groaned forth Villefort, in a paroxysm of
grief, which was the more terrible from the novelty of the
sensation in the iron heart of that man.
"Dead!" repeated a third voice. "Who said Valentine was
The two men turned round, and saw Morrel standing at the
door, pale and terror-stricken. This is what had happened.
At the usual time, Morrel had presented himself at the
little door leading to Noirtier's room. Contrary to custom,
the door was open, and having no occasion to ring he
entered. He waited for a moment in the hall and called for a
servant to conduct him to M. Noirtier; but no one answered,
the servants having, as we know, deserted the house. Morrel
had no particular reason for uneasiness; Monte Cristo had
promised him that Valentine should live, and so far he had
always fulfilled his word. Every night the count had given
him news, which was the next morning confirmed by Noirtier.
Still this extraordinary silence appeared strange to him,
and he called a second and third time; still no answer. Then
he determined to go up. Noirtier's room was opened, like all
the rest. The first thing he saw was the old man sitting in
his arm-chair in his usual place, but his eyes expressed
alarm, which was confirmed by the pallor which overspread
"How are you, sir?" asked Morrel, with a sickness of heart.
"Well," answered the old man, by closing his eyes; but his
appearance manifested increasing uneasiness.
"You are thoughtful, sir," continued Morrel; "you want
something; shall I call one of the servants?"
"Yes," replied Noirtier.
Morrel pulled the bell, but though he nearly broke the cord
no one answered. He turned towards Noirtier; the pallor and
anguish expressed on his countenance momentarily increased.
"Oh," exclaimed Morrel, "why do they not come? Is any one
ill in the house?" The eyes of Noirtier seemed as though
they would start from their sockets. "What is the matter?
You alarm me. Valentine? Valentine?"
"Yes, yes," signed Noirtier. Maximilian tried to speak, but
he could articulate nothing; he staggered, and supported
himself against the wainscot. Then he pointed to the door.
"Yes, yes, yes!" continued the old man. Maximilian rushed up
the little staircase, while Noirtier's eyes seemed to say,
-- "Quicker, quicker!"
In a minute the young man darted through several rooms, till
at length he reached Valentine's. There was no occasion to
push the door, it was wide open. A sob was the only sound he
heard. He saw as though in a mist, a black figure kneeling
and buried in a confused mass of white drapery. A terrible
fear transfixed him. It was then he heard a voice exclaim
"Valentine is dead!" and another voice which, like an echo
repeated, -- "Dead, -- dead!"
Villefort rose, half ashamed of being surprised in such a
paroxysm of grief. The terrible office he had held for
twenty-five years had succeeded in making him more or less
than man. His glance, at first wandering, fixed itself upon
Morrel. "Who are you, sir," he asked, "that forget that this
is not the manner to enter a house stricken with death? Go,
sir, go!" But Morrel remained motionless; he could not
detach his eyes from that disordered bed, and the pale
corpse of the young girl who was lying on it. "Go! -- do you
hear?" said Villefort, while d'Avrigny advanced to lead
Morrel out. Maximilian stared for a moment at the corpse,
gazed all around the room, then upon the two men; he opened
his mouth to speak, but finding it impossible to give
utterance to the innumerable ideas that occupied his brain,
he went out, thrusting his hands through his hair in such a
manner that Villefort and d'Avrigny, for a moment diverted
from the engrossing topic, exchanged glances, which seemed
to say, -- "He is mad!"
But in less than five minutes the staircase groaned beneath
an extraordinary weight. Morrel was seen carrying, with
superhuman strength, the arm-chair containing Noirtier
up-stairs. When he reached the landing he placed the
arm-chair on the floor and rapidly rolled it into
Valentine's room. This could only have been accomplished by
means of unnatural strength supplied by powerful excitement.
But the most fearful spectacle was Noirtier being pushed
towards the bed, his face expressing all his meaning, and
his eyes supplying the want of every other faculty. That
pale face and flaming glance appeared to Villefort like a
frightful apparition. Each time he had been brought into
contact with his father, something terrible had happened.
"See what they have done!" cried Morrel, with one hand
leaning on the back of the chair, and the other extended
towards Valentine. "See, my father, see!"
Villefort drew back and looked with astonishment on the
young man, who, almost a stranger to him, called Noirtier
his father. At this moment the whole soul of the old man
seemed centred in his eyes which became bloodshot; the veins
of the throat swelled; his cheeks and temples became purple,
as though he was struck with epilepsy; nothing was wanting
to complete this but the utterance of a cry. And the cry
issued from his pores, if we may thus speak -- a cry
frightful in its silence. D'Avrigny rushed towards the old
man and made him inhale a powerful restorative.
"Sir," cried Morrel, seizing the moist hand of the
paralytic, "they ask me who I am, and what right I have to
be here. Oh, you know it, tell them, tell them!" And the
young man's voice was choked by sobs. As for the old man,
his chest heaved with his panting respiration. One could
have thought that he was undergoing the agonies preceding
death. At length, happier than the young man, who sobbed
without weeping, tears glistened in the eyes of Noirtier.
"Tell them," said Morrel in a hoarse voice, "tell them that
I am her betrothed. Tell them she was my beloved, my noble
girl, my only blessing in the world. Tell them -- oh, tell
them, that corpse belongs to me!"
The young man overwhelmed by the weight of his anguish, fell
heavily on his knees before the bed, which his fingers
grasped with convulsive energy. D'Avrigny, unable to bear
the sight of this touching emotion, turned away; and
Villefort, without seeking any further explanation, and
attracted towards him by the irresistible magnetism which
draws us towards those who have loved the people for whom we
mourn, extended his hand towards the young man. But Morrel
saw nothing; he had grasped the hand of Valentine, and
unable to weep vented his agony in groans as he bit the
sheets. For some time nothing was heard in that chamber but
sobs, exclamations, and prayers. At length Villefort, the
most composed of all, spoke: "Sir," said he to Maximilian,
"you say you loved Valentine, that you were betrothed to
her. I knew nothing of this engagement, of this love, yet I,
her father, forgive you, for I see that your grief is real
and deep; and besides my own sorrow is too great for anger
to find a place in my heart. But you see that the angel whom
you hoped for has left this earth -- she has nothing more to
do with the adoration of men. Take a last farewell, sir, of
her sad remains; take the hand you expected to possess once
more within your own, and then separate yourself from her
forever. Valentine now requires only the ministrations of
"You are mistaken, sir," exclaimed Morrel, raising himself
on one knee, his heart pierced by a more acute pang than any
he had yet felt -- "you are mistaken; Valentine, dying as
she has, not only requires a priest, but an avenger. You, M.
de Villefort, send for the priest; I will be the avenger."
"What do you mean, sir?" asked Villefort, trembling at the
new idea inspired by the delirium of Morrel.
"I tell you, sir, that two persons exist in you; the father
has mourned sufficiently, now let the procureur fulfil his
The eyes of Noirtier glistened, and d'Avrigny approached.
"Gentlemen," said Morrel, reading all that passed through
the minds of the witnesses to the scene, "I know what I am
saying, and you know as well as I do what I am about to say
-- Valentine has been assassinated!" Villefort hung his
head, d'Avrigny approached nearer, and Noirtier said "Yes"
with his eyes. "Now, sir," continued Morrel, "in these days
no one can disappear by violent means without some inquiries
being made as to the cause of her disappearance, even were
she not a young, beautiful, and adorable creature like
Valentine. Mr. Procureur," said Morrel with increasing
vehemence, "no mercy is allowed; I denounce the crime; it is
your place to seek the assassin." The young man's implacable
eyes interrogated Villefort, who, on his side, glanced from
Noirtier to d'Avrigny. But instead of finding sympathy in
the eyes of the doctor and his father, he only saw an
expression as inflexible as that of Maximilian. "Yes,"
indicated the old man.
"Assuredly," said d'Avrigny.
"Sir," said Villefort, striving to struggle against this
triple force and his own emotion, -- "sir, you are deceived;
no one commits crimes here. I am stricken by fate. It is
horrible, indeed, but no one assassinates."
The eyes of Noirtier lighted up with rage, and d'Avrigny
prepared to speak. Morrel, however, extended his arm, and
commanded silence. "And I say that murders are committed
here," said Morrel, whose voice, though lower in tone, lost
none of its terrible distinctness: "I tell you that this is
the fourth victim within the last four months. I tell you,
Valentine's life was attempted by poison four days ago,
though she escaped, owing to the precautions of M. Noirtier.
I tell you that the dose has been double, the poison
changed, and that this time it has succeeded. I tell you
that you know these things as well as I do, since this
gentleman has forewarned you, both as a doctor and as a
"Oh, you rave, sir," exclaimed Villefort, in vain
endeavoring to escape the net in which he was taken.
"I rave?" said Morrel; "well, then, I appeal to M. d'Avrigny
himself. Ask him, sir, if he recollects the words he uttered
in the garden of this house on the night of Madame de
Saint-Meran's death. You thought yourselves alone, and
talked about that tragical death, and the fatality you
mentioned then is the same which has caused the murder of
Valentine." Villefort and d'Avrigny exchanged looks. "Yes,
yes," continued Morrel; "recall the scene, for the words you
thought were only given to silence and solitude fell into my
ears. Certainly, after witnessing the culpable indolence
manifested by M. de Villefort towards his own relations, I
ought to have denounced him to the authorities; then I
should not have been an accomplice to thy death, as I now
am, sweet, beloved Valentine; but the accomplice shall
become the avenger. This fourth murder is apparent to all,
and if thy father abandon thee, Valentine, it is I, and I
swear it, that shall pursue the assassin." And this time, as
though nature had at least taken compassion on the vigorous
frame, nearly bursting with its own strength, the words of
Morrel were stifled in his throat; his breast heaved; the
tears, so long rebellious, gushed from his eyes; and he
threw himself weeping on his knees by the side of the bed.
Then d'Avrigny spoke. "And I, too," he exclaimed in a low
voice, "I unite with M. Morrel in demanding justice for
crime; my blood boils at the idea of having encouraged a
murderer by my cowardly concession."
"Oh, merciful heavens!" murmured Villefort. Morrel raised
his head, and reading the eyes of the old man, which gleamed
with unnatural lustre, -- "Stay," he said, "M. Noirtier
wishes to speak."
"Yes," indicated Noirtier, with an expression the more
terrible, from all his faculties being centred in his
"Do you know the assassin?" asked Morrel.
"Yes," replied Noirtier.
"And will you direct us?" exclaimed the young man. "Listen,
M. d'Avrigny, listen!" Noirtier looked upon Morrel with one
of those melancholy smiles which had so often made Valentine
happy, and thus fixed his attention. Then, having riveted
the eyes of his interlocutor on his own, he glanced towards
"Do you wish me to leave?" said Morrel, sadly.
"Yes," replied Noirtier.
"Alas, alas, sir, have pity on me!"
The old man's eyes remained fixed on the door.
"May I, at least, return?" asked Morrel.
"Must I leave alone?"
"Whom am I to take with me? The procureur?"
"You wish to remain alone with M. de Villefort?"
"But can he understand you?"
"Oh," said Villefort, inexpressibly delighted to think that
the inquiries were to be made by him alone, -- "oh, be
satisfied, I can understand my father." D'Avrigny took the
young man's arm, and led him out of the room. A more than
deathlike silence then reigned in the house. At the end of a
quarter of an hour a faltering footstep was heard, and
Villefort appeared at the door of the apartment where
d'Avrigny and Morrel had been staying, one absorbed in
meditation, the other in grief. "You can come," he said, and
led them back to Noirtier. Morrel looked attentively on
Villefort. His face was livid, large drops rolled down his
face, and in his fingers he held the fragments of a quill
pen which he had torn to atoms.
"Gentlemen," he said in a hoarse voice, "give me your word
of honor that this horrible secret shall forever remain
buried amongst ourselves!" The two men drew back.
"I entreat you." -- continued Villefort.
"But," said Morrel, "the culprit -- the murderer -- the
"Do not alarm yourself, sir; justice will be done," said
Villefort. "My father has revealed the culprit's name; my
father thirsts for revenge as much as you do, yet even he
conjures you as I do to keep this secret. Do you not,
"Yes," resolutely replied Noirtier. Morrel suffered an
exclamation of horror and surprise to escape him. "Oh, sir,"
said Villefort, arresting Maximilian by the arm, "if my
father, the inflexible man, makes this request, it is
because he knows, be assured, that Valentine will be
terribly revenged. Is it not so, father?" The old man made a
sign in the affirmative. Villefort continued: "He knows me,
and I have pledged my word to him. Rest assured, gentlemen,
that within three days, in a less time than justice would
demand, the revenge I shall have taken for the murder of my
child will be such as to make the boldest heart tremble;"
and as he spoke these words he ground his teeth, and grasped
the old man's senseless hand.
"Will this promise be fulfilled, M. Noirtier?" asked Morrel,
while d'Avrigny looked inquiringly.
"Yes," replied Noirtier with an expression of sinister joy.
"Swear, then," said Villefort, joining the hands of Morrel
and d'Avrigny, "swear that you will spare the honor of my
house, and leave me to avenge my child." D'Avrigny turned
round and uttered a very feeble "Yes," but Morrel,
disengaging his hand, rushed to the bed, and after having
pressed the cold lips of Valentine with his own, hurriedly
left, uttering a long, deep groan of despair and anguish. We
have before stated that all the servants had fled. M. de
Villefort was therefore obliged to request M. d'Avrigny to
superintend all the arrangements consequent upon a death in
a large city, more especially a death under such suspicious
It was something terrible to witness the silent agony, the
mute despair of Noirtier, whose tears silently rolled down
his cheeks. Villefort retired to his study, and d'Avrigny
left to summon the doctor of the mayoralty, whose office it
is to examine bodies after decease, and who is expressly
named "the doctor of the dead." M. Noirtier could not be
persuaded to quit his grandchild. At the end of a quarter of
an hour M. d'Avrigny returned with his associate; they found
the outer gate closed, and not a servant remaining in the
house; Villefort himself was obliged to open to them. But he
stopped on the landing; he had not the courage to again
visit the death chamber. The two doctors, therefore, entered
the room alone. Noirtier was near the bed, pale, motionless,
and silent as the corpse. The district doctor approached
with the indifference of a man accustomed to spend half his
time amongst the dead; he then lifted the sheet which was
placed over the face, and just unclosed the lips.
"Alas," said d'Avrigny, "she is indeed dead, poor child!"
"Yes," answered the doctor laconically, dropping the sheet
he had raised. Noirtier uttered a kind of hoarse, rattling
sound; the old man's eyes sparkled, and the good doctor
understood that he wished to behold his child. He therefore
approached the bed, and while his companion was dipping the
fingers with which he had touched the lips of the corpse in
chloride of lime, he uncovered the calm and pale face, which
looked like that of a sleeping angel. A tear, which appeared
in the old man's eye, expressed his thanks to the doctor.
The doctor of the dead then laid his permit on the corner of
the table, and having fulfilled his duty, was conducted out
by d'Avrigny. Villefort met them at the door of his study;
having in a few words thanked the district doctor, he turned
to d'Avrigny, and said, -- "And now the priest."
"Is there any particular priest you wish to pray with
Valentine?" asked d'Avrigny.
"No." said Villefort; "fetch the nearest."
"The nearest," said the district doctor, "is a good Italian
abbe, who lives next door to you. Shall I call on him as I
"D'Avrigny," said Villefort, "be so kind, I beseech you, as
to accompany this gentleman. Here is the key of the door, so
that you can go in and out as you please; you will bring the
priest with you, and will oblige me by introducing him into
my child's room."
"Do you wish to see him?"
"I only wish to be alone. You will excuse me, will you not?
A priest can understand a father's grief." And M. de
Villefort, giving the key to d'Avrigny, again bade farewell
to the strange doctor, and retired to his study, where he
began to work. For some temperaments work is a remedy for
all afflictions. As the doctors entered the street, they saw
a man in a cassock standing on the threshold of the next
door. "This is the abbe of whom I spoke," said the doctor to
d'Avrigny. D'Avrigny accosted the priest. "Sir," he said,
"are you disposed to confer a great obligation on an unhappy
father who has just lost his daughter? I mean M. de
Villefort, the king's attorney."
"Ah," said the priest, in a marked Italian accent; "yes, I
have heard that death is in that house."
"Then I need not tell you what kind of service he requires
"I was about to offer myself, sir," said the priest; "it is
our mission to forestall our duties."
"It is a young girl."
"I know it, sir; the servants who fled from the house
informed me. I also know that her name is Valentine, and I
have already prayed for her."
"Thank you, sir," said d'Avrigny; "since you have commenced
your sacred office, deign to continue it. Come and watch by
the dead, and all the wretched family will be grateful to
"I am going, sir; and I do not hesitate to say that no
prayers will be more fervent than mine." D'Avrigny took the
priest's hand, and without meeting Villefort, who was
engaged in his study, they reached Valentine's room, which
on the following night was to be occupied by the
undertakers. On entering the room, Noirtier's eyes met those
of the abbe, and no doubt he read some particular expression
in them, for he remained in the room. D'Avrigny recommended
the attention of the priest to the living as well as to the
dead, and the abbe promised to devote his prayers to
Valentine and his attentions to Noirtier. In order,
doubtless, that he might not be disturbed while fulfilling
his sacred mission, the priest rose as soon as d'Avrigny
departed, and not only bolted the door through which the
doctor had just left, but also that leading to Madame de
The next morning dawned dull and cloudy. During the night
the undertakers had executed their melancholy office, and
wrapped the corpse in the winding-sheet, which, whatever may
be said about the equality of death, is at least a last
proof of the luxury so pleasing in life. This winding-sheet
was nothing more than a beautiful piece of cambric, which
the young girl had bought a fortnight before. During the
evening two men, engaged for the purpose, had carried
Noirtier from Valentine's room into his own, and contrary to
all expectation there was no difficulty in withdrawing him
from his child. The Abbe Busoni had watched till daylight,
and then left without calling any one. D'Avrigny returned
about eight o'clock in the morning; he met Villefort on his
way to Noirtier's room, and accompanied him to see how the
old man had slept. They found him in the large arm-chair,
which served him for a bed, enjoying a calm, nay, almost a
smiling sleep. They both stood in amazement at the door.
"See," said d'Avrigny to Villefort, "nature knows how to
alleviate the deepest sorrow. No one can say that M.
Noirtier did not love his child, and yet he sleeps."
"Yes, you are right," replied Villefort, surprised; "he
sleeps, indeed! And this is the more strange, since the
least contradiction keeps him awake all night."
"Grief has stunned him," replied d'Avrigny; and they both
returned thoughtfully to the procureur's study.
"See, I have not slept," said Villefort, showing his
undisturbed bed; "grief does not stun me. I have not been in
bed for two nights; but then look at my desk; see what I
have written during these two days and nights. I have filled
those papers, and have made out the accusation against the
assassin Benedetto. Oh, work, work, -- my passion, my joy,
my delight, -- it is for thee to alleviate my sorrows!" and
he convulsively grasped the hand of d'Avrigny.
"Do you require my services now?" asked d'Avrigny.
"No," said Villefort; "only return again at eleven o'clock;
at twelve the -- the -- oh, heavens, my poor, poor child!"
and the procureur again becoming a man, lifted up his eyes
"Shall you be present in the reception room?"
"No; I have a cousin who has undertaken this sad office. I
shall work, doctor -- when I work I forget everything." And,
indeed, no sooner had the doctor left the room, than he was
again absorbed in study. On the doorsteps d'Avrigny met the
cousin whom Villefort had mentioned, a personage as
insignificant in our story as in the world he occupied --
one of those beings designed from their birth to make
themselves useful to others. He was punctual, dressed in
black, with crape around his hat, and presented himself at
his cousin's with a face made up for the occasion, and which
he could alter as might be required. At twelve o'clock the
mourning-coaches rolled into the paved court, and the Rue du
Faubourg Saint-Honore was filled with a crowd of idlers,
equally pleased to witness the festivities or the mourning
of the rich, and who rush with the same avidity to a funeral
procession as to the marriage of a duchess.
Gradually the reception-room filled, and some of our old
friends made their appearance -- we mean Debray,
Chateau-Renaud, and Beauchamp, accompanied by all the
leading men of the day at the bar, in literature, or the
army, for M. de Villefort moved in the first Parisian
circles, less owing to his social position than to his
personal merit. The cousin standing at the door ushered in
the guests, and it was rather a relief to the indifferent to
see a person as unmoved as themselves, and who did not exact
a mournful face or force tears, as would have been the case
with a father, a brother, or a lover. Those who were
acquainted soon formed into little groups. One of them was
made of Debray, Chateau-Renaud, and Beauchamp.
"Poor girl," said Debray, like the rest, paying an
involuntary tribute to the sad event, -- "poor girl, so
young, so rich, so beautiful! Could you have imagined this
scene, Chateau-Renaud, when we saw her, at the most three
weeks ago, about to sign that contract?"
"Indeed, no," said Chateau-Renaud -- "Did you know her?"
"I spoke to her once or twice at Madame de Morcerf's, among
the rest; she appeared to me charming, though rather
melancholy. Where is her stepmother? Do you know?"
"She is spending the day with the wife of the worthy
gentleman who is receiving us."
"Who is he?"
"Whom do you mean?"
"The gentleman who receives us? Is he a deputy?"
"Oh, no. I am condemned to witness those gentlemen every
day," said Beauchamp; "but he is perfectly unknown to me."
"Have you mentioned this death in your paper?"
"It has been mentioned, but the article is not mine; indeed,
I doubt if it will please M. Villefort, for it says that if
four successive deaths had happened anywhere else than in
the house of the king's attorney, he would have interested
himself somewhat more about it."
"Still," said Chateau-Renaud, "Dr. d'Avrigny, who attends my
mother, declares he is in despair about it. But whom are you
"I am seeking the Count of Monte Cristo" said the young man.
"I met him on the boulevard, on my way here," said
Beauchamp. "I think he is about to leave Paris; he was going
to his banker."
"His banker? Danglars is his banker, is he not?" asked
Chateau-Renaud of Debray.
"I believe so," replied the secretary with slight
uneasiness. "But Monte Cristo is not the only one I miss
here; I do not see Morrel."
"Morrel? Do they know him?" asked Chateau-Renaud. "I think
he has only been introduced to Madame de Villefort."
"Still, he ought to have been here," said Debray; "I wonder
what will be talked about to-night; this funeral is the news
of the day. But hush, here comes our minister of justice; he
will feel obliged to make some little speech to the cousin,"
and the three young men drew near to listen. Beauchamp told
the truth when he said that on his way to the funeral he had
met Monte Cristo, who was directing his steps towards the
Rue de la Chausse d'Antin, to M. Danglars'.
The banker saw the carriage of the count enter the court
yard, and advanced to meet him with a sad, though affable
smile. "Well," said he, extending his hand to Monte Cristo,
"I suppose you have come to sympathize with me, for indeed
misfortune has taken possession of my house. When I
perceived you, I was just asking myself whether I had not
wished harm towards those poor Morcerfs, which would have
justified the proverb of `He who wishes misfortunes to
happen to others experiences them himself.' Well, on my word
of honor, I answered, `No!' I wished no ill to Morcerf; he
was a little proud, perhaps, for a man who like myself has
risen from nothing; but we all have our faults. Do you know,
count, that persons of our time of life -- not that you
belong to the class, you are still a young man, -- but as I
was saying, persons of our time of life have been very
unfortunate this year. For example, look at the puritanical
procureur, who has just lost his daughter, and in fact
nearly all his family, in so singular a manner; Morcerf
dishonored and dead; and then myself covered with ridicule
through the villany of Benedetto; besides" --
"Besides what?" asked the Count.
"Alas, do you not know?"
"What new calamity?"
"My daughter" --
"Eugenie has left us!"
"Good heavens, what are you telling me?"
"The truth, my dear count. Oh, how happy you must be in not
having either wife or children!"
"Do you think so?"
"Indeed I do."
"And so Mademoiselle Danglars" --
"She could not endure the insult offered to us by that
wretch, so she asked permission to travel."
"And is she gone?"
"The other night she left."
"With Madame Danglars?"
"No, with a relation. But still, we have quite lost our dear
Eugenie; for I doubt whether her pride will ever allow her
to return to France."
"Still, baron," said Monte Cristo, "family griefs, or indeed
any other affliction which would crush a man whose child was
his only treasure, are endurable to a millionaire.
Philosophers may well say, and practical men will always
support the opinion, that money mitigates many trials; and
if you admit the efficacy of this sovereign balm, you ought
to be very easily consoled -- you, the king of finance, the
focus of immeasurable power."
Danglars looked at him askance, as though to ascertain
whether he spoke seriously. "Yes," he answered, "if a
fortune brings consolation, I ought to be consoled; I am
"So rich, dear sir, that your fortune resembles the
pyramids; if you wished to demolish them you could not, and
if it were possible, you would not dare!" Danglars smiled at
the good-natured pleasantry of the count. "That reminds me,"
he said, "that when you entered I was on the point of
signing five little bonds; I have already signed two: will
you allow me to do the same to the others?"
"Pray do so."
There was a moment's silence, during which the noise of the
banker's pen was alone heard, while Monte Cristo examined
the gilt mouldings on the ceiling. "Are they Spanish,
Haitian, or Neapolitan bonds?" said Monte Cristo. "No," said
Danglars, smiling, "they are bonds on the bank of France,
payable to bearer. Stay, count," he added, "you, who may be
called the emperor, if I claim the title of king of finance,
have you many pieces of paper of this size, each worth a
million?" The count took into his hands the papers, which
Danglars had so proudly presented to him, and read: --
"To the Governor of the Bank. Please pay to my order, from
the fund deposited by me, the sum of a million, and charge
the same to my account.
"One, two, three, four, five," said Monte Cristo; "five
millions -- why what a Croesus you are!"
"This is how I transact business," said Danglars.
"It is really wonderful," said the count; "above all, if, as
I suppose, it is payable at sight."
"It is, indeed, said Danglars.
"It is a fine thing to have such credit; really, it is only
in France these things are done. Five millions on five
little scraps of paper! -- it must be seen to be believed."
"You do not doubt it?"
"You say so with an accent -- stay, you shall be convinced;
take my clerk to the bank, and you will see him leave it
with an order on the Treasury for the same sum."
"No," said Monte Cristo folding the five notes, "most
decidedly not; the thing is so curious, I will make the
experiment myself. I am credited on you for six millions. I
have drawn nine hundred thousand francs, you therefore still
owe me five millions and a hundred thousand francs. I will
take the five scraps of paper that I now hold as bonds, with
your signature alone, and here is a receipt in full for the
six millions between us. I had prepared it beforehand, for I
am much in want of money to-day." And Monte Cristo placed
the bonds in his pocket with one hand, while with the other
he held out the receipt to Danglars. If a thunderbolt had
fallen at the banker's feet, he could not have experienced
"What," he stammered, "do you mean to keep that money?
Excuse me, excuse me, but I owe this money to the charity
fund, -- a deposit which I promised to pay this morning."
"Oh, well, then," said Monte Cristo, "I am not particular
about these five notes, pay me in a different form; I
wished, from curiosity, to take these, that I might be able
to say that without any advice or preparation the house of
Danglars had paid me five millions without a minute's delay;
it would have been remarkable. But here are your bonds; pay
me differently;" and he held the bonds towards Danglars, who
seized them like a vulture extending its claws to withhold
the food that is being wrested from its grasp. Suddenly he
rallied, made a violent effort to restrain himself, and then
a smile gradually widened the features of his disturbed
"Certainly," he said, "your receipt is money."
"Oh dear, yes; and if you were at Rome, the house of Thomson
& French would make no more difficulty about paying the
money on my receipt than you have just done."
"Pardon me, count, pardon me."
"Then I may keep this money?"
"Yes," said Danglars, while the perspiration started from
the roots of his hair. "Yes, keep it -- keep it."
Monte Cristo replaced the notes in his pocket with that
indescribable expression which seemed to say, "Come,
reflect; if you repent there is till time."
"No," said Danglars, "no, decidedly no; keep my signatures.
But you know none are so formal as bankers in transacting
business; I intended this money for the charity fund, and I
seemed to be robbing them if I did not pay them with these
precise bonds. How absurd -- as if one crown were not as
good as another. Excuse me;" and he began to laugh loudly,
"Certainly, I excuse you," said Monte Cristo graciously,
"and pocket them." And he placed the bonds in his
"But," said Danglars, "there is still a sum of one hundred
"Oh, a mere nothing," said Monte Cristo. "The balance would
come to about that sum; but keep it, and we shall be quits."
"Count." said Danglars, "are you speaking seriously?"
"I never joke with bankers," said Monte Cristo in a freezing
manner, which repelled impertinence; and he turned to the
door, just as the valet de chambre announced, -- "M. de
Boville, receiver-general of the charities."
"Ma foi," said Monte Cristo; "I think I arrived just in time
to obtain your signatures, or they would have been disputed
Danglars again became pale, and hastened to conduct the
count out. Monte Cristo exchanged a ceremonious bow with M.
de Boville, who was standing in the waiting-room, and who
was introduced into Danglars' room as soon as the count had
left. The count's sad face was illumined by a faint smile,
as he noticed the portfolio which the receiver-general held
in his hand. At the door he found his carriage, and was
immediately driven to the bank. Meanwhile Danglars,
repressing all emotion, advanced to meet the
receiver-general. We need not say that a smile of
condescension was stamped upon his lips. "Good-morning,
creditor," said he; "for I wager anything it is the creditor
who visits me."
"You are right, baron," answered M. de Boville; "the
charities present themselves to you through me: the widows
and orphans depute me to receive alms to the amount of five
millions from you."
"And yet they say orphans are to be pitied," said Danglars,
wishing to prolong the jest. "Poor things!"
"Here I am in their name," said M. de Boville; "but did you
receive my letter yesterday?"
"I have brought my receipt."
"My dear M. de Boville, your widows and orphans must oblige
me by waiting twenty-four hours, since M. de Monte Cristo
whom you just saw leaving here -- you did see him, I think?"
"Well, M. de Monte Cristo has just carried off their five
"The count has an unlimited credit upon me; a credit opened
by Thomson & French, of Rome; he came to demand five
millions at once, which I paid him with checks on the bank.
My funds are deposited there, and you can understand that if
I draw out ten millions on the same day it will appear
rather strange to the governor. Two days will be a different
thing," said Danglars, smiling.
"Come," said Boville, with a tone of entire incredulity,
"five millions to that gentleman who just left, and who
bowed to me as though he knew me?"
"Perhaps he knows you, though you do not know him; M. de
Monte Cristo knows everybody."
"Here is his receipt. Believe your own eyes." M. de Boville
took the paper Danglars presented him, and read: --
"Received of Baron Danglars the sum of five million one
hundred thousand francs, to be repaid on demand by the house
of Thomson & French of Rome."
"It is really true," said M. de Boville.
"Do you know the house of Thomson & French?"
"Yes, I once had business to transact with it to the amount
of 200,000 francs; but since then I have not heard it
"It is one of the best houses in Europe," said Danglars,
carelessly throwing down the receipt on his desk.
"And he had five millions in your hands alone! Why, this
Count of Monte Cristo must be a nabob?"
"Indeed I do not know what he is; he has three unlimited
credits -- one on me, one on Rothschild, one on Lafitte;
and, you see," he added carelessly, "he has given me the
preference, by leaving a balance of 100,000 francs." M. de
Boville manifested signs of extraordinary admiration. "I
must visit him," he said, "and obtain some pious grant from
"Oh, you may make sure of him; his charities alone amount to
20,000 francs a month."
"It is magnificent! I will set before him the example of
Madame de Morcerf and her son."
"They gave all their fortune to the hospitals."
"Their own -- M. de Morcerf's, who is deceased."
"For what reason?"
"Because they would not spend money so guiltily acquired."
"And what are they to live upon?"
"The mother retires into the country, and the son enters the
"Well, I must confess, these are scruples."
"I registered their deed of gift yesterday."
"And how much did they possess?"
"Oh, not much -- from twelve to thirteen hundred thousand
francs. But to return to our millions."
"Certainly," said Danglars, in the most natural tone in the
world. "Are you then pressed for this money?"
"Yes; for the examination of our cash takes place
"To-morrow? Why did you not tell me so before? Why, it is as
good as a century! At what hour does the examination take
"At two o'clock."
"Send at twelve," said Danglars, smiling. M. de Boville said
nothing, but nodded his head, and took up the portfolio.
"Now I think of it, you can do better," said Danglars.
"How do you mean?"
"The receipt of M. de Monte Cristo is as good as money; take
it to Rothschild's or Lafitte's, and they will take it off
your hands at once."
"What, though payable at Rome?"
"Certainly; it will only cost you a discount of 5,000 or
6,000 francs." The receiver started back. "Ma foi," he said,
"I prefer waiting till to-morrow. What a proposition!"
"I thought, perhaps," said Danglars with supreme
impertinence, "that you had a deficiency to make up?"
"Indeed," said the receiver.
"And if that were the case it would be worth while to make
"Thank you, no, sir."
"Then it will be to-morrow."
"Yes; but without fail."
"Ah, you are laughing at me; send to-morrow at twelve, and
the bank shall be notified."
"I will come myself."
"Better still, since it will afford me the pleasure of
seeing you." They shook hands. "By the way," said M. de
Boville, "are you not going to the funeral of poor
Mademoiselle de Villefort, which I met on my road here?"
"No," said the banker; "I have appeared rather ridiculous
since that affair of Benedetto, so I remain in the
"Bah, you are wrong. How were you to blame in that affair?"
"Listen -- when one bears an irreproachable name, as I do,
one is rather sensitive."
"Everybody pities you, sir; and, above all, Mademoiselle
"Poor Eugenie!" said Danglars; "do you know she is going to
embrace a religious life?"
"Alas, it is unhappily but too true. The day after the
event, she decided on leaving Paris with a nun of her
acquaintance; they are gone to seek a very strict convent in
Italy or Spain."
"Oh, it is terrible!" and M. de Boville retired with this
exclamation, after expressing acute sympathy with the
father. But he had scarcely left before Danglars, with an
energy of action those can alone understand who have seen
Robert Macaire represented by Frederic,* exclaimed, --
"Fool!" Then enclosing Monte Cristo's receipt in a little
pocket-book, he added: -- "Yes, come at twelve o'clock; I
shall then be far away." Then he double-locked his door,
emptied all his drawers, collected about fifty thousand
francs in bank-notes, burned several papers, left others
exposed to view, and then commenced writing a letter which
"To Madame la Baronne Danglars."
* Frederic Lemaitre -- French actor (1800-1876). Robert
Macaire is the hero of two favorite melodramas -- "Chien de
Montargis" and "Chien d'Aubry" -- and the name is applied to
bold criminals as a term of derision.
"I will place it on her table myself to-night," he murmured.
Then taking a passport from his drawer he said, -- "Good, it
is available for two months longer."
The Cemetery of Pere-la-Chaise.
M. de Boville had indeed met the funeral procession which
was taking Valentine to her last home on earth. The weather
was dull and stormy, a cold wind shook the few remaining
yellow leaves from the boughs of the trees, and scattered
them among the crowd which filled the boulevards. M. de
Villefort, a true Parisian, considered the cemetery of
Pere-la-Chaise alone worthy of receiving the mortal remains
of a Parisian family; there alone the corpses belonging to
him would be surrounded by worthy associates. He had
therefore purchased a vault, which was quickly occupied by
members of his family. On the front of the monument was
inscribed: "The families of Saint-Meran and Villefort," for
such had been the last wish expressed by poor Renee,
Valentine's mother. The pompous procession therefore wended
its way towards Pere-la-Chaise from the Faubourg
Saint-Honore. Having crossed Paris, it passed through the
Faubourg du Temple, then leaving the exterior boulevards, it
reached the cemetery. More than fifty private carriages
followed the twenty mourning-coaches, and behind them more
than five hundred persons joined in the procession on foot.
These last consisted of all the young people whom
Valentine's death had struck like a thunderbolt, and who,
notwithstanding the raw chilliness of the season, could not
refrain from paying a last tribute to the memory of the
beautiful, chaste, and adorable girl, thus cut off in the
flower of her youth. As they left Paris, an equipage with
four horses, at full speed, was seen to draw up suddenly; it
contained Monte Cristo. The count left the carriage and
mingled in the crowd who followed on foot. Chateau-Renaud
perceived him and immediately alighting from his coupe,
The count looked attentively through every opening in the
crowd; he was evidently watching for some one, but his
search ended in disappointment. "Where is Morrel?" he asked;
"do either of these gentlemen know where he is?"
"We have already asked that question," said Chateau-Renaud,
"for none of us has seen him." The count was silent, but
continued to gaze around him. At length they arrived at the
cemetery. The piercing eye of Monte Cristo glanced through
clusters of bushes and trees, and was soon relieved from all
anxiety, for seeing a shadow glide between the yew-trees,
Monte Cristo recognized him whom he sought. One funeral is
generally very much like another in this magnificent
metropolis. Black figures are seen scattered over the long
white avenues; the silence of earth and heaven is alone
broken by the noise made by the crackling branches of hedges
planted around the monuments; then follows the melancholy
chant of the priests, mingled now and then with a sob of
anguish, escaping from some woman concealed behind a mass of
The shadow Monte Cristo had noticed passed rapidly behind
the tomb of Abelard and Heloise, placed itself close to the
heads of the horses belonging to the hearse, and following
the undertaker's men, arrived with them at the spot
appointed for the burial. Each person's attention was
occupied. Monte Cristo saw nothing but the shadow, which no
one else observed. Twice the count left the ranks to see
whether the object of his interest had any concealed weapon
beneath his clothes. When the procession stopped, this
shadow was recognized as Morrel, who, with his coat buttoned
up to his throat, his face livid, and convulsively crushing
his hat between his fingers, leaned against a tree, situated
on an elevation commanding the mausoleum, so that none of
the funeral details could escape his observation. Everything
was conducted in the usual manner. A few men, the least
impressed of all by the scene, pronounced a discourse, some
deploring this premature death, others expatiating on the
grief of the father, and one very ingenious person quoting
the fact that Valentine had solicited pardon of her father
for criminals on whom the arm of justice was ready to fall
-- until at length they exhausted their stores of metaphor
and mournful speeches.
Monte Cristo heard and saw nothing, or rather he only saw
Morrel, whose calmness had a frightful effect on those who
knew what was passing in his heart. "See," said Beauchamp,
pointing out Morrel to Debray. "What is he doing up there?"
And they called Chateau-Renaud's attention to him.
"How pale he is!" said Chateau-Renaud, shuddering.
"He is cold," said Debray.
"Not at all," said Chateau-Renaud, slowly; "I think he is
violently agitated. He is very susceptible."
"Bah," said Debray; "he scarcely knew Mademoiselle de
Villefort; you said so yourself."
"True. Still I remember he danced three times with her at
Madame de Morcerf's. Do you recollect that ball, count,
where you produced such an effect?"
"No, I do not," replied Monte Cristo, without even knowing
of what or to whom he was speaking, so much was he occupied
in watching Morrel, who was holding his breath with emotion.
"The discourse is over; farewell, gentlemen," said the
count. And he disappeared without anyone seeing whither he
went. The funeral being over, the guests returned to Paris.
Chateau-Renaud looked for a moment for Morrel; but while
they were watching the departure of the count, Morrel had
quitted his post, and Chateau-Renaud, failing in his search,
joined Debray and Beauchamp.
Monte Cristo concealed himself behind a large tomb and
awaited the arrival of Morrel, who by degrees approached the
tomb now abandoned by spectators and workmen. Morrel threw a
glance around, but before it reached the spot occupied by
Monte Cristo the latter had advanced yet nearer, still
unperceived. The young man knelt down. The count, with
outstretched neck and glaring eyes, stood in an attitude
ready to pounce upon Morrel upon the first occasion. Morrel
bent his head till it touched the stone, then clutching the
grating with both hands, he murmured, -- "Oh, Valentine!"
The count's heart was pierced by the utterance of these two
words; he stepped forward, and touching the young man's
shoulder, said, -- "I was looking for you, my friend." Monte
Cristo expected a burst of passion, but he was deceived, for
Morrel turning round, said calmly, --
"You see I was praying." The scrutinizing glance of the
count searched the young man from head to foot. He then
seemed more easy.